Prairie State Blue: The Problem with Pensions:

Defined benefit plans are not inherently unsustainable. They made sense and were solvent when salaries were lower, payout levels were lower, employees retired later and died earlier. With higher salaries and especially stepped-up pay schedules, earlier retirements, increased longevity, and payouts of up to 75% or higher on last year or so of salary, the system fails. In fact it has to fail.

What I like about the article is that the author has put out numbers we can play with. It’s not perfect — see the comments — but earns points for clarity and as a springboard for further discussion about reform.

So get this, the notification of the agenda came out Friday and if you want to take a look at the 70-page contract proposal and tell your alderman what you think of it, you have to somehow squeeze in a visit to the city manager’s office before 6 p.m. this evening. It’s not a part of the agenda packet — or at least not the online one.

Behold my latest puzzle:

Fiscal
Year
FTEsAccrued
Payroll
Liability
Compensated
Absences
Payable
Comp
Time
Paid
Out
2004245.37437,0243,635,441
2005250.12622,4393,926,592
2006253.87606,4534,171,622
2007260.57799,2624,418,472319,000
2008262.07995,1804,172,541383,000
2009249.27869,2564,867,981304,000
2010240.761,055,1724,647,907374,000
Read the rest of this entry

Clarity

Hey, City of DeKalb, just so we’re clear: No fire station at the airport until the south side is taken care of.

DeKalb Firefighters’ Step B

[Correction 7/5: Whoops! The link provided goes to Aurora, CO, not to Aurora, IL, which is IAFF Local 99. Many thanks to the reader who let me know.]

Check out p. 60 of the DeKalb firefighters’ contract with the city. It’s the appendix showing the base pay agreement for the latter half of 2010, the one labeled “4% General Increases For All Classifications”.

Step A to Step B is not part of the 4% “general” increase. For example:

Firefighter/Paramedic Step A annual salary: $54,682.78
Firefighter/Paramedic Step B annual salary: $67,332.91

This is an increase of more than 23%.

In a related development, I’m creating my own chart of firefighter/paramedic base pay salary comparisons, but have gotten stuck on Aurora, which has a breakdown into several more firefighter pay grades than other municipalities do. If a knowledgeable someone could take a gander at p. 18 and let me know which one fits best, I’d be grateful. Contact yinn@citybarbs.com.

An arbitrator awarded a 6% pay raise to Rockford firefighters.

City officials said the award will cost taxpayers an estimated $618,000 in 2011 and more than $1.2 million in 2012 when the 6.1 percent wage is in effect for a full year.

Arbitrator Robert Perkovich rejected the city’s offer of a 2 percent wage increase this year. [IAFF Local 413 president Lt. Brad] Walker called the salary hike overdue.

“There were no raises in ’09 and ’10,” he said. “We went 26 months without a general wage increase.”

Walker said the wage hike keeps the city’s firefighters in the same ballpark as other Illinois fire departments of similar size.

“We were just trying to stay close to our comparable cities,” Walker said of Aurora, Bloomington, Champaign, DeKalb, Joliet, Peoria and Springfield.

Rockford already faces a deficit of $4 million in the coming year. At least one alderman is calling for outsourcing ambulance services in response to the crisis.

City Layoffs

Here is a comment that popped up in another post this afternoon:

Well as of today start to look for your own way of provideing some city services. Twenty employees got laidoff today, and 10 others were taking the early retirment package, and reportly 2 got terminated. So what does this mean no one left to do the blue collar work.

At this moment the Daily Chronicle states that a news release with the specifics is expected about 4 p.m. It is 3:40 as I type this.

The budget hasn’t been finalized yet, but some contracts — AFSCME comes to mind — require prior notice for layoffs, in case the unions can come up with an alternative plan in the interim.

In 2008, in the midst of a self-proclaimed fiscal crisis, City Council voted to allow the (former) Community Development Department to obtain a new SUV.

This is symbolic, see? The Police and Fire departments have had to put off replacing vehicles and some equipment since then. The Police Department, in particular, is getting nickel-and-dimed on old patrol cars that should have been retired last year, and the year before, and the year before that. But Community Development got exactly what it wanted.

And, as each new downtown brick paver is tamped into place, it must seem like a slap in the face. Read the rest of this entry

City Council’s most damaging flaw is its low overall level of intellectual curiosity. Between the grandstanding and the gotchas and the preening and pomposity, there is little time or inclination left for understanding the fundamental shifts necessary for our continued well-being, much less prosperity. Whatever energy might have been devoted to real study of big-picture issues is instead spent at scrutiny of minutiae and potshots at the individuals who understand, care, and represent the struggling DeKalbite best.

Mac McIntyre expressed the only compassion to be witnessed in Council Chambers last night. He set real people of DeKalb — the foreclosed-upon, the unemployed, the underemployed — against the next extravagance contemplated for the downtown. The cognitive dissonance must have caused instant, painful hissing of synapses, for, instead of mirroring and applying the compassion, the response was defensive and dismissive.

And, even with hard numbers in front of them, Council continues to miss the point. Read the rest of this entry

Fire Fighter Open Thread

From Monday’s City Council meeting agenda:

2) RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR OF THE CITY OF DEKALB, ILLINOIS TO EXECUTE A VARIANCE AGREEMENT TO THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT WITH THE DEKALB INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, LOCAL 1236, AFL-CIO FOR THE PERIOD OF JULY 1, 2008 THROUGH JUNE 30, 2011.

The City and IAFF Local 1236 have reached a tentative agreement. As part of this agreement, IAFF members agree to an eleven month wage freeze in year one and a six month wage freeze in year two during the remaining two years of the agreement. Members also agree to waive their carrying fee compensation through the term of the contract. In return, the City agrees to offer reinstatement to the three laid off firefighters and to hire an additional recently vacant position. The City also agrees that any firefighter that retires on or before September 5, 2009 shall be eligible for health insurance premiums that were in effect prior to June 29, 2009 but shall be subject to any changes that may occur in the future. Additionally, the City agrees not to lay-off or furlough any Union member through the term of the current contract (June 30, 2011). The terms of this variance agreement will result in approximately $350,000 in savings over the remaining two years of the agreement. Please direct questions about this item to Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu.

L. REPORTS – COMMUNICATIONS

M. RECESS FOR CLOSED SESSION

DeKalb needed to save $500,000 citywide this year. Does the two-year agreement help them meet this milepost? Has anybody done the math? Bueller?